A Green Strategies Bulletin

Legislative activity is picking up again at the Statehouse. Legislators have introduced close to 100 bills in each chamber. While few have dealt with advanced energy and sustainability issues, we expect more to come soon. In addition, a new Republican majority in the Ohio House and Governor’s office could signal increased scrutiny on the work of the EPA and advanced energy incentives — as is happening at the Federal Level.

New Legislation

Senate Bill 22. Senator Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster), a professional engineer by trade, has introduced a bill amending the process for issuing a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The bill requires the EPA director to consider a number of factors before issuing or denying a permit. All consideration must be made within the confines of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.

PUCO Chairman

Ohio Governor John Kasich has appointed a new Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) chairman—current lawmaker Todd Snitchler (R-Uniontown). Representative Snitchler is also an attorney in private practice in his hometown. His experience includes serving on the Ohio House Alternative Energy Committee last year and chairing the House Public Utilities Committee in this year’s General Assembly session. He has also spent time interning with First Energy prior to his legislative career. It is yet unclear when the Representative will step down from his current office and assume the PUCO Chairmanship.

Updates on Federal Initiatives and Ohio EPA

In late January, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) introduced a bill to delay by two years the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's authority to regulate the greenhouse gas emissions of power plants and other industrial polluters. Rockefeller is leading an effort among Senate Democrats to suspend the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rules that took effect on January 2, 2011. Rockefeller said the bill is necessary to give Congress more time to consider a comprehensive energy bill and the industry more time to develop clean-coal technology. Six centrist Democrats co-sponsored the legislation: Jim Webb (D-Va.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Joe Manchin III (D-W.V.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.).

Similarly, The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) held a public hearing on February 11, 2011 to discuss proposed rules that would require only very large emitters of greenhouse gases to obtain clean-air permits for their Ohio operations. The rules were originally adopted through a governor’s executive order signed on December 30, 2010. These rules were generally supported by both business and environmental interest groups.